Distributed Healthcare is a hot-topic in public health circles and since the Covid-19 induced exposure of systemic weaknesses in many health networks, planning over how to make the concept a more widely practiced reality has accelerated. Even more aspects of healthcare are now being considered for home-based implementation. In a paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the author provides a helpful scope of what home healthcare spans by elucidating 4 service models:
(1) medical house calls or home-based primary care, (2) health agency care or peer-to-peer health service delivery, (3) telehealth or remote medicine and mobile health (mHealth), and (4) exponential technologies for healthcare.
Disrupting hospital and clinic-based care isn’t without its challenges though. A recent Harvard Business Review article calls out a few big hurdles to home-based care including overcoming clinician’s concerns, ensuring patient safety, and regulatory unknowns and barriers. Add to this, the fact that changing people’s behaviour is very difficult (this is a fascinating read about how to do so in healthcare)! As patients, we are accustomed to the process of visiting a physical location, checking in with the staff and seeing a doctor in the flesh. How do we deal with the impersonal aspects of remote health? Who will be there to observe our pain and put a stethoscope to our chest as we inhale?
In the emerging world of tele-health and virtual medicine these actions may be superfluous but our familiarity (and comfort) with is not. Is there a suitable replacement for the human touch? While we do not fully know what the future holds, but we do know there will be a huge need for eliciting and managing patient preferences and data. This begs the question; how can Practice Management Systems bridge the gap and ensure continuity regardless of healthcare delivery method?
We’ll investigate this question and wrap up the entire month’s discussion next week!